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Voz Alta is a participatory, voice-activated public light installation designed by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer as a memorial for the Tlatelolco massacre, which occurred on October 2, 1968 in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco, Mexico. In the Plaza, Lozano-Hemmer has synchronized a megaphone with a 10 kW Xenon robotic searchlight. As each participant speaks into the megaphone, the searchlight shines to the uppermost floor of the towering Centro Cultural Tlatelolco (CCT) building where three additional searchlights instantaneously strobe, dim, and brighten, illuminating the nocturnal landscape in horizontally fixed, tangential beams. Although the aesthetic, social, historical, and political aspects of Voz Alta have been discussed extensively in existing scholarship, the role of sound as a mechanism for power, control, and disruption has been sparsely addressed. This paper examines the metaphorical and literal manifestations of sound in Voz Alta and build upon Diana Sorenson’s discussion of the literary and verbal insurgencies that emerged after the massacre, as well as Michael Soldatenko’s analysis of the “oppositional imaginary,” which was catalyzed by the public in the informational vacuum imposed by the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) regime. By incorporating the memory of a charged national event into spaces already imbued with meaning, Voz Alta operates on multiple levels, deliberately exceeding the parameters of artistic practice and becoming a platform for social activism. The paper’s aim is to achieve consensus on what Voz Alta achieves for its participants; its correlation and activation of memory associated with the massacre; and its potential to supplement the incomplete history that haunts the contemporary Mexican state.

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Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Voz Alta, relational architecture, sound, light, participatory art, public art, art, social activism, installation, searchlights, national monuments, symbolic space, temporal space, public resistance movements, collective memory, oppositional imaginary, institutional imaginary, Michael Soldatenko, Diana Sorenson, temporary art installations, immaterial memorials, art as event, memory, 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, Mexico


Audio Arts and Acoustics | Contemporary Art | Interactive Arts | Latin American History | Modern Art and Architecture

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Robert Hobbs

Is Part Of

VCU Graduate Research Posters

Voz Alta:  The Sound of a Collective Memory